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The individual who fatally shot 5 people at a Colorado LGBTQ+ club has entered a guilty plea for 50 federal hate crimes

A cameraman works near a tribute to the victim (Via Bill Allen/Shutterstock)

The individual who killed five people and injured 19 others at an LGBTQ+ club in conservative Colorado Springs has pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes. He received 55 life sentences in prison on Tuesday but chose not to apologize or address the victims’ families.

Prosecutors emphasized that Anderson Lee Aldrich’s admission of committing hate crimes was significant. Under the plea agreement, Aldrich acknowledged multiple instances of hate in connection with the mass shooting.

Prosecutor Alison Connaughty stressed the impact of the attack on Club Q, describing it not just as a bar but as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We heard from individuals who said ‘This venue saved my life and gave me a sense of normalcy again,'” she said. Connaughty added that the sentence sends a strong message that hate-motivated acts will result in severe penalties.

Aldrich, aged 24, was already serving a life sentence for state charges he pleaded guilty to last year.

Ed Sanders speaks after the order (Via Bill Allen/Shutterstock)

Federal prosecutors aimed to prove that the November 19, 2022, attack on the LGBTQ+ refuge was premeditated and driven by bias.

U.S. District Judge Charlotte Sweeney, Colorado’s first openly gay federal judge, listened to emotional testimonies from survivors before approving the plea deal. It also includes a 190-year term for gun-related offenses.

Despite some survivors advocating for the death penalty, Sweeney explained that it was not pursued by prosecutors and would require a jury decision. Instead, she highlighted that the life sentences mean no prolonged appeals or further courtroom appearances where the defendant might become a symbol.

Reflecting on the legacy of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student murdered in 1998, after whom part of the federal hate crime law is named, Sweeney stated that Aldrich will spend his life in prison, facing a bleak future.

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